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The Long Beach City College Vikings came up short against the Cerritos College Falcons in the Western State Bowl, 35-28.
“I respect the hell out of the fight,” commented Vikings’ head coach Brett Peabody.
Tensions were high at Falcon Field on Saturday night, as three things were on the line for the Vikings: Western State Bowl, Crosstown Cup, and most of all, pride. With the majority of players knowing each other from their prep years, and being under eight miles away from each other, the rivalry was tense between the two teams.
The Vikings’ first drive looked rough to start, with an opening sack then an illegal formation in the first two plays. However, freshman quarterback Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell and sophomore running back Jonathan Watson soon took control to produce a methodical drive. Going 70 yards down the field, Campbell-Caldwell found sophomore wide receiver, Trennel Ridgely, in the corner for the opening score at 7:47 in the first quarter.
The Falcons retaliated back with an explosive drive of their own. Going down 72 yards, in a little over four minutes, Cerritos’ quarterback Jordan Simpson punched it in from eight yards out. The Falcons tried some early trickeration with a two point conversion, but the Vikings held strong to give them the 7-6 lead with 3:31 left in the first quarter.
The Vikings’ second drive started like their first: messy. Another sack and two near interceptions, the Vikings were forced to punt. The first quarter ended, yet the Falcons were knocking on Long Beach’s redzone.
Within the starting seconds of the second quarter, Simpson delivered a seam strike to freshman Jaceson Doss for the touchdown. Simpson then found sophomore Noah Sanchez for the two point conversion, giving Cerritos the 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
The Falcons would go on a near nine minute scoring drive, giving them the 21-7 lead with under a minute left in the half.
Despite only having 54 seconds, Campbell-Caldwell and the Viking offense pushed down the field with precision and explosion. Ultimately, Campbell-Caldwell capped off the drive with a twenty yard touchdown throw to freshman wide receiver Kyle Miller to go into the half only down one score, 21-14.
The Vikings defense continued to look strong, forcing a second-half three and out, and it allowed their offense to have prime field position at midfield. In three plays, the Vikings scored on a one yard reception by Miller, primed by Watson’s 38 yard run to the one yard line, tying the game at 21-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
With a bowl game, rivalry bragging rights, and pride on the line, the fourth quarter was high stakes and high rewards. Throughout the game, it was chippy with players jawing at one another, yet the fourth quarter provided numerous personal fouls and penalties that would ultimately cost the Vikings in the end.
“[The penalties] and us being undisciplined was unreal. It cost us, and it wasn’t good football,” said Peabody.
The Falcons scored on their first fourth quarter possession, capped by a three yard run from sophomore running back Davon Booth. On the ensuing Vikings’ possession, Miller fumbled, and the Falcons recovered the ball at midfield.
Cerritos would capitalize, as Simpson found Doss down field, to set the Falcons up for a Penieli Lauago rushing touchdown. The Falcons led 35-21 with seven minutes left in the game.
Campbell-Caldwell and sophomore wide receiver Bryce Jones produced a quick, sustainable drive to keep the Vikings within the game. Campbell-Caldwell would find Jones, despite running into the umpire, to cap the drive for a score.
Cerritos would hold the last possession, as they ran out the clock, and penalties broke the Viking defense. Cerritos set up in V-Formation, to ensure the victory, up seven.
The Vikings finished the season 5-6, 2-3, and snapped their win streak of five bowl games in a row.
Looking to spring and next season, Coach Peabody mentioned how there needs to be “better buy in” and “freshmen need to be ready” to lead and play in next year’s group.